In the pre-match, post-match press conferences at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, we have seen a common theme. Captains, mostly, have been asked about a team’s particular record in the past – either from the recent times or a more historic one. Australia, about their record streak and Ashes win and the 2017 World Cup defeat that reset their course. South Africa, about their myriad series wins in the lead up to this event. New Zealand, about the historic 2000 triumph on home soil.

For India, one such question has been the recent series defeat in New Zealand.

Now, there are two ways to look at this, obviously. For Mithali Raj and Co, the series defeat was a sort of reality check and that they have issues to address. But also worth adding is the lack of training camps at home and the quarantine in New Zealand on arrival played its part too. So does one read into it much? Does it give New Zealand an overwhelming edge on Thursday when they meet at a different venue in Hamilton? Is the World Cup a whole different deal than a bilateral?

One thing that is undeniable is that, among all visiting countries, India are the most well-settled in New Zealand and used to conditions, having played the White Ferns in a five-match ODI series in Queenstown prior to the tournament starting.

New Zealand came away 4-1 winners but getting the match practice was just as important for India as they look to peak when it matters most against the home side.

Speaking ahead of the match, star pacer Jhulan Goswami said: “That was our plan - just before the World Cup - to acclimatise with these conditions and these wickets and come back and play fresh in this World Cup.”

“Tomorrow’s match is a totally different ball game. It’s a fresh game, and it’s a World Cup game and definitely we’re looking forward to make sure that we do well.”

ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup: Shafali Verma is just one big knock away, says Jhulan Goswami

Both sides are hoping to win back-to-back matches after New Zealand recovered from a shock loss to the West Indies first up to defeat Bangladesh in a rain-affected game.

For India, there will be positives to take from the win in the fifth game of the ODI series.

“The win [in the final game] is important for any team which is getting into a big event,” captain Mithali Raj had said in the pre tournament press conference. “The takeaway definitely is how the batting unit has turned out in each game. The bowling unit took a bit of time. The spinners that we bank on, they do also understand these wickets are batting friendly and they need to tighten up line and length and bowl consistently. We definitely also look to put more effort on fielding, it is an area we are consistently working on.”

The fielding effort showed against Pakistan in their big win to start the campaign, as India took 100% of the chances that came their way. The bowling too was much improved if the batting from Pakistan didn’t exactly threaten to blow them away. But the batting just fell back a bit into older habits they had avoided and now against New Zealand, India will be hoping to channel their more recent uptick in form and scoring rates. A middle order collapse against New Zealand will not go down the same way as it did against Pakistan.

H2H: India 2-9 NZ at ICC Women's CWC

Result Margin Ground Start Date
India won 186 runs Derby 15 Jul 2017
NZ won 5 wickets Sydney 17 Mar 2009
India won 40 runs Potchefstroom 7 Apr 2005
NZ won 16 runs Pretoria 30 Mar 2005
NZ won 9 wickets Lincoln 20 Dec 2000
NZ won 74 runs Lincoln 9 Dec 2000
tied - Indore 17 Dec 1997
NZ won 42 runs London 28 Jul 1993
NZ won 8 wickets Christchurch 2 Feb 1982
NZ won 8 wickets Palmerston North 24 Jan 1982
NZ won 43 runs Auckland 14 Jan 1982
NZ won 9 wickets Patna 5 Jan 0197

India-NZ recent head-to-head (From 2017)

Result Margin Ground Start Date
India won 6 wickets Queenstown 24 Feb 2022
NZ won 63 runs Queenstown 22 Feb 2022
NZ won 3 wickets Queenstown 18 Feb 2022
NZ won 3 wickets Queenstown 15 Feb 2022
NZ won 62 runs Queenstown 12 Feb 2022
NZ won 8 wickets Hamilton 1 Feb 2019
India won 8 wickets Mount Maunganui 29 Jan 2019
India won 9 wickets Napier 24 Jan 2019
India won 186 runs Derby 15 Jul 2017

India's matches at Seddon Park

Team Result Margin Balls remaining Toss Batting Opposition Ground Start Date
India lost 8 wickets 124 lost 1st v NZ Hamilton 1 Feb 2019
India lost 7 wickets 13 won 1st v NZ Hamilton 23 Feb 1995

Also read: Of depth and depth – Takeaways from India’s win against Pakistan

While India will be banking largely on a clean slate and tournament pressure, for New Zealand it will be a case of looking at things that went right. You don’t just sweep aside a series win like that in the name of a fresh start, and, speaking of which, sweeping incidentally will actually play a part in the match against India.

“I think we have to take confidence [from the 4-1 series win],” White Ferns vice captain Amy Satterthwaite said on Wednesday. “It’s not every day that you beat a really quality Indian side for one. So there’s certainly a huge amount of confidence that we can take out of that.”

“And I think probably the way that we played the spinners, in particular and the confidence we can gain from that - like we can take into this game and you know, that’s the nice part about having played them. And before this tournament is that we can take bits and pieces out of it but like I said earlier, it’s also been a one off match and you have to make sure that you turn up on the day and perform with both bat and ball and and then the field and I think yeah, we can take a little bit out of it. But we’ve got to make sure that we turn up and can execute our skills and if we do that, you know, it gets us to be in a strong position.”

The match will be the second one in Hamilton, and the first witnessed more than 600 runs being scored as Australia prevailed in a high-scoring battle against England.

“Definitely this wicket looks like it’s going to be a high scoring game and the wicket looks pretty flat. And yeah, we all expect some good score on the scoreboard and definitely have a plan and definitely try to execute. But this important thing - that day particular day how we are going to execute those plans, that’s the most important thing,” Goswami said.

“We have done our work. But again, match days are different. How we will handle the pressure and how you’re going to control and execute those plans. That’s going to be important. And let’s see, let’s hope for the best. I think everybody’s fit, everybody is available and definitely management team – whichever will be the best team – they will play them tomorrow.”

And a huge part of that challenge for India will be to keep Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr and Satterthwaite – arguably the second best top four in the tournament after Australia – quiet. Kerr was especially severe on Indian spinners in the recent series, and allowing her the freedom of scoring square of the wicket either sides is a ploy India can’t afford to in this match.

With West Indies winning two out of two, the pressure is on both India and New Zealand to make sure they get a crucial win in the race for top four. Early days in the tournament, but it is rather evident that a group of five teams are competing for three spots (with Australia looking strong as ever and Pakistan, Bangladesh – while competitive in flashes – might struggle to win enough matches). Neither side can afford a defeat and therein lies the biggest difference between a bilateral affair and a tournament battle.

Upcoming milestones:

  • Jhulan Goswami (38) needs one more wicket to equal Lynette Fullston (Australia) for the most ICC Women’s World Cup wickets.
  • At the completion of this game, Mithali Raj will equal Belinda Clark’s (Australia) record for most matches (23) as a captain at ICC Women’s World Cups. 
  • Suzie Bates needs 128 more runs to become only the fourth woman to score 5,000 runs in ODI history.
  • Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite need two more runs to become only the second pair in history to reach 500 runs in partnership at ICC Women’s World Cups, after Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley.

With inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 and ESPNCricinfo Statsguru. All statistics mentioned for women’s One Day Internationals unless otherwise stated.